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JD(U) to wait for BJP’s offer before deciding on seats, says Nitish Kumar

Following CM Nitish Kumar’s speech at party executive meet, JD(U) hit out at Union ministers Giriraj Singh and Jayant Sinha.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2018 15:33 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
JD(U) meet,Nitish Kumar,Crime
Bihar chief minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, general secretary KC Tyagi and general secretary (Organisation) RCP Singh during National Executive meeting at party headquarters in New Delhi on Sunday, July 8, 2018. (PTI)

The Janata Dal (United) is not worried over seat-sharing adjustments with the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar and will decide once the BJP makes an offer, the party’s general secretary KC Tyagi said on Sunday after a national executive meet authorised Nitish Kumar to take a call on various issues, including the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

The party’s meet, which was held in Delhi, took place in the backdrop of reports of strained ties between the JD(U) and BJP. While ruling out any collaboration with its older allies, the Congress and Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the JD(U) sought to establish an independent identity at the meeting by criticising actions of BJP leaders, too. Kumar said those who had the intention of marginalising his party would get marginalised.

The Bihar chief minister and BJP president Amit Shah are scheduled to meet in Patna on July 12 to likely discuss a formula for the distribution of 40 Lok Sabha seats between four partners of the National Democratic Alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, a person familiar with the matter said. Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party and Upendra Kushwaha’s Rashtriya Lok Samta Party are the two other partners in the state.

A JD(U) office-bearer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Kumar was in favour of continuing with the BJP, but would not compromise on the party’s interests. “Nitish wants the BJP to make the offer. He doesn’t want to jump the gun,” he said. “But any offer has to be commensurate with the stature of Kumar and strength of the JD(U),” the leader added.

Tyagi said the JD(U) was with the NDA and would contest the next election together. He said many reference points including the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the 2015 assembly polls were being suggested to finalise the seat-sharing formula, but they would be considered only after the BJP made a formal offer.

Another JD(U) leader said Kumar didn’t want to take the blame for any possible breakdown of negotiations, and would wait for Shah to come forward with the offer. “In the meantime, we will start preparing for the election on all 40 seats (in Bihar). We need to keep the party going,” he said, requesting anonymity.

The JD(U) contested the 2014 elections separately and managed to win just two Lok Sabha seats. The three other NDA allies in the state won 31 out of the 40 seats in that election.

In the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, the JD(U) had won 71 of the 101 seats it contested (out of total 243 seats), while the BJP emerged victorious in 53 out of 157 seats in which it fielded candidates.

Tyagi told reporters at a press conference after the meet that no party should make the mistake of ignoring the JD(U). He said the 2014 Lok Sabha elections were the worst phase for the party. “Still, the JDU polled 17% votes in that election,” Tyagi said, adding Kumar’s image was party’s strength.

Tyagi also said there was no possibility of talks with the Congress until it snapped ties with the “corrupt” RJD. Tyagi terming the RJD a corrupt party was seen as an effort to quell speculation that Kumar was cosying up to the party after recently talking to Lalu Prasad over his health.

At the meeting, Kumar told JD(U) leaders he would not compromise over issues of ‘crime, corruption and communalism’.

The JD(U) also hit out at Union ministers Giriraj Singh and Jayant Sinha. While Singh met people accused of rioting and said the state government was suppressing Hindus, Sinha had garlanded people convicted of lynching a man in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district. Eight of the 11 convicts were granted bail by the Jharkhand high court on June 29. Such conducts are injurious to the health of democracy, said Tyagi.

The JD(U) also said it favoured the idea of simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, adding that it would help deal with the menace of black money and help in saving resources. However, it said the implementation of the simultaneous polls would be a difficult task.

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First Published: Jul 08, 2018 20:37 IST